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CAT 2008: 7 tips to crack Quant
Priya Varat Singh & Dacharla Vamsi
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Quantitative section of CAT has always been the favourite of the exam setters. It seems as if over 75 per cent of exam setting efforts are devoted to Quant and DI sections. Perhaps, that's the reason why solving techniques and the ultimate solutions to this logical, tricky and seemingly lengthy form of aptitude problems have been consistently changing. The contest between the exam setters and CAT experts is more or less like the competition between the computer security specialists and the hackers. One consistently comes up with security walls and the other passionately finds a way through them.

CAT 2008 seems to be approaching faster than the speed of time. This coupled with the possible increase in the participation this year makes the going really tough. Hence, it's a must for us to identify and strengthen the strategies in the quantitative that can help us differentiate ourselves from others. We all are putting our best on attaining speed and accuracy. All of us have access to online resources and NAT-Cats (National CATs). The only thing that needs to be understood is "what makes us superior to others" when it comes to Quantitative section of CAT 2008.

1. The winners' way to solving Quant problems

The CAT-Crackers ought to keep certain methods in mind while tackling questions related to Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation.

~ Direct method: You may also call it "The Conventional Method" of solving questions. We can solve the question based on the information given by applying the formula. But we no longer get questions in CAT requiring direct procedure.

~ Substitution method: This method is useful in solving problems related to algebra. A few values in the question given can be swapped with the other values to get the answer.

~ 'Elimination' method: This is considered to be the most effective one as far as CAT questions are concerned. Options give some inkling of the answer and through expertise gained by regular practice you can easily tackle the questions.

~ 'Observation' method: In this method, a repeat pattern can be observed and answer can be formalised accordingly.

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~ Simultaneous method: Two methods can go concurrently. First half of the questions can be done using direct method and when the picture becomes clear, elimination procedure can be used.

The methods can be explained better with the help of following example.

2. Understanding accelerators & speed breakers

CAT is more about smartness than about intelligence. In CAT nobody expects you to answer all the questions. There should be an elimination round for the questions as well. You should know what to select and what to reject. You have to be choosy while attempting your paper. There is no fun in getting 4 marks for a question and losing one mark for the next. So, unless you are very sure of the solution to the question, don't attempt it.

3. Accuracy

If you want to be the first, give priority to "accuracy". The act of choosing a question, in a way, is related to accuracy as you will select and reject a question based on the accuracy level you can achieve in solving the given question. 47 - 57 per cent of the paper done with 80 per cent accuracy will be much better than 80 per cent of the paper done with 47 - 57 per cent accuracy.

4. Improving speed of calculation

Do put in some efforts to improve your calculation speed. For attempting a question, we can divide time into two parts, to grasp the question and to calculate it further. Fast calculation will definitely save your time which you can then allocate to other questions.

5. Handling traps

Many a times there are language traps laid by the paper setter. Even simple questions confuse you with their tricky language which is a deliberate attempt to affect your understanding.

6. Modified CAT pattern

As we all know CAT likes to give us surprises. Over the years the pattern has shifted from pure calculation based questions to pure logic based ones. So, handle the questions accordingly and ensure a proper balance between attempt and accuracy.

A better way to understand the modified pattern with language traps will be to discuss an example:

Example 2

The price of Darjeeling tea (in rupees per kilogram) is 100 + 0.10n on the nth day of 2007 (n = 1, 2, ..., 100), and then remains constant. On the other hand, the price of Ooty tea (in rupees per kilogram) is 89 + 0.15n on the nth day of 2007 (n = 1, 2, ..., 365). On which date in 2007 will the prices of these two varieties of tea be equal?

(1) May 21
(2) April 11
(3) May 20
(4) April 10
(5) June 30

Solution:  The greatest temptation while solving this question is to equate the prices of both teas. This should never be done because the price of Darjeeling tea is constant after 100 days. So, on the 100th day, its price will be 110 and it is constant throughout the rest of the year.  The price of Ooty tea will become 110 on the 140th day.  That is on May 20. So Answer (3) is the right option.

7. Mock tests

You may have mastered the concepts theoretically, but you will not gain confidence unless you pay heed to the "Mock Tests". Take as many mock tests as you can. Remember� Practice makes a person perfect.  Understanding things theoretically is far different from doing them practically. So, put your theories in practical framework and check out if your strategy is working effectively. Optimal use of time to attempt optimum number of questions is desirable as well as fruitful.

Top Careers & You is the premier organization that has been preparing national and international candidates for high-end tests viz. CAT, XAT, JMET, SNAP, CET, FMS, IIFT and GMAT since 1998. Visit www.tcyonline.com/ to have FREE access to thousands for these tests.

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